Section 4 Group 3 Media Analysis on Barbie Dolls


Kangweon Lee:

1. Why do Barbie dolls always represent the ideal physique of a female giving no room for females that fall out of the norm?
2. How will the Barbie dolls appeal to the wider customers besides Caucasian females with enormous breasts and skinny waist when only a fraction of the population falls into the category?

My example tells us about how Barbie dolls' physique represents the ideal form, which everyone dies to look like those dolls. Oversized breasts, heights taller than average, overly skinny waist, and heterosexuality give no room to encompass queer and abnormal groups of people such as short, obese, homosexual, and non-white population. In economical standpoint, the Barbie dolls raise questions about how do they make profit if they are only appealing to a particular group. I believe Barbie dolls are trying to ingrain the most ideal and desired features of females to the population. At the expense of those people who do not have the same features that the Barbie dolls have the gap between normal and abnormal is created benefiting the majority group, who look like the Barbie dolls.

Mary Kennedy:

1. What kinds of messages does this commercial send to young girls about their roles in society and how they should act to fit into those roles?

This commercial for Barbie: A Fairy Secret DVD, which has an accompanying Barbie doll, is full of indications that reinforce the expectation of females in the media to look "coy." The image on the front of the DVD is Barbie holding a finger up to her lips, as if she was saying, "shhhh...keep it a secret." The Barbie is a movie star, but is secretly a fairy. This image of perfection and coyness sends out many messages to young girls about an accepted ideal for beauty they should aim for. First, the line that says, "she and her friends can look like everyone else, until they reveal a secret," teaches girls that in order to stand out, they must be mysterious, or have some sort of a secret that they hide. This also ties into the common image in advertising of female coyness. It encourages girls to not only look like a Barbie looks, but also to look pure and modest. This expectation could confuse girls--we live in a society where being yourself is encouraged (and not to mention clich├ęd), but where the media sends messages to hide secrets about yourself so that you aren't viewed as "easy" or "predictable."

Gyeongeun Kim:

1. The writer says it is made to "showcase Barbie in high-power careers and encourage young girls to be any career they sat their mind to." How this reinforces the notion of women in 'high-power position'?
2. What Architect Barbie suggests of power hierarchy structure in society?

Architect Barbie shows existing notion of appropriate attitudes and activities for particular sex. People are under pressure to prove that they are "essentially" male or female despite appearances to the contrary just like this Barbie. Since architecture and construction are traditionally considered manly areas, people tend to discredit both ability of female worker in such areas and her femininity. Thus, female workers are often forced to prove that they still fit into behavioral norm of feminine women. Otherwise, people would denigrate one's sexuality and confidence as a woman especially when she is too great as an architect. In fact, however, fully expressing her femininity is not always the best solution because people would disparage her ability as an architect when she is too sexy or too feminine. Therefore, women are always required to keep the balance between her attitudes and activities. Barbie shows this oppression on women who want to have a 'masculine job'.

Group Analysis:

By just taking a look at a Barbie doll, the average person wouldn't think too much about the doll's physique--she's attractive, handheld, and "perfect." But when you take a closer look, you can see into the heteronormative ideal that she represents in American society. This ideal tells us (1) what a female should look like, (2) the gender roles a female should fit into, and (3) it helps to reinforce for many young girls what they should be working towards as they grow up. First, it tells us what females should look like--blond hair, big boobs, white, middle class, tall, long legs, wearing mini skirts, tank tops, and high heels everywhere, and not to mention keeping perfect hair and makeup. This reinforces the binary that is already so prevalent in our culture, showing us the sort of woman a man would be attracted to. Next, Barbie dolls suggest strong gender roles and give cues into female ability. The gender role Barbie represents is females just being "girlie" and going shopping; rarely are there suggestions of Barbies in the work force. As old fashioned as this sounds, however, Barbies have not changed much since they began in the 50s--they still appear feminine, fragile, and as neutral, static figures in society. The Architect Barbie acts to showcase a female in a "high-power career" and break the generally accepted notion of female ability, but she still wears a strapless dress and has perfect hair and makeup. Lastly, the paradigm of femininity that Barbie and the gender roles she suggests reinforce to young girls what should look like and how they should act as females. Barbies indirectly teach little girls to wear mini skirts and high heels, and to be solely concerned with their appearance rather than with anything of significance, for example, a career. American culture is inching towards breaking the binaries and heteronormative ideals, but Barbie dolls continue to contradict these efforts.

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